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Return to Work Release

My employee presented me with a release to return to work without limitations. However, it is questionable if the doctor is aware that the building we work in requires us to us a flight of stairs. Can we request a second release that reflects the doctors awareness of the flight of stairs? This employee was out for three months due to a knee injury.

Employers are within their rights to clarify return to work or fitness-for-duty certifications. Assuming the employee was on FMLA leave certain provisions apply.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The employer may require the employee to submit a certification from a health care provider to support the employee’s need for FMLA leave to care for a covered family member with a serious health condition or for the employee’s own serious health condition.

The employer may also request employees in similar job positions who take leave for similar health conditions to provide a fitness-for-duty certification from the employee’s health care provider showing that the employee is able to resume work. The employer may request the certification only with regard to the health condition that caused the employee’s need for FMLA leave. If the employer will require a certification, it must provide notice of that requirement and whether the certification must address the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of his or her job with the FMLA designation notice.

As long as the employer has provided the required notice regarding any fitness-for-duty certification requirement, the employee’s return to work may be delayed until the certification is provided. An employer may contact an employee’s health care provider to clarify or authenticate a fitness-for-duty certification, but cannot delay the employee’s return to work while making that contact. An employer may not require second or third opinions for a fitness-for-duty certification.

The employer must also consider if a collective bargaining agreement provides provisions regarding an employee’s return to work. For example, an agreement might state that once an employee provides the initially requested information and is able to return to work, the employer cannot prohibit the employee from doing so solely based on the employer wanting additional clearance information.


This entry was posted on Monday, August 11th, 2014 at 5:50 pm and is filed under
Labor Laws.
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